What Is a Canker Sore: 8 Home Remedies for Canker Sores

What Is a Canker Sore: 8 Home Remedies for Canker Sores

What Is a Canker Sore?

Canker sores, also known as aphthous stomatitis, are those pesky little ulcers that pop up in your mouth or on your gums. They can be a real pain, literally! They're pretty common and for most folks, they just show up now and then, causing a bit of annoyance. But for some unlucky souls, they seem to be regular visitors, popping up multiple times a year—up to four times, to be exact!

What Causes a Canker Sore?

So, what exactly causes those irritating canker sores? Well, several things can kick them into gear. Maybe you accidentally bite your cheek, scrub too vigorously with your toothbrush, or indulge in some crunchy or sharp-edged foods. Additionally, certain food or chemical allergies, like gluten, dairy, or sodium lauryl sulfate sensitivity, can trigger them. Nutrient deficiencies and stress can also play a role in making you more susceptible to these pesky mouth ulcers.

Is a canker sore the same as a cold sore?

Lots of folks mix up canker sores with cold sores, but they're quite different. Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, can pop up when the herpes simplex virus decides to throw a party. When this virus flares up or reactivates, it causes painful blisters to appear on the outside of your mouth—either on, above, or below your lips, around your nose, or even under your chin. Unlike canker sores, which aren't contagious, cold sores are infectious.

Natural Remedies for Canker Sores 

Canker sores usually stick around for about one to three weeks, but in some cases, they can linger for up to six weeks. If things get rough, you might even experience a fever, swollen lymph glands,  and general malaise.

But hey, there's good news! There are some remedies out there that can help speed up the healing process. Here are eight of them:

Remedy #1 – Boost your nutrition

Boost your nutrition

A lack of certain nutrients can mess with the lining of your mouth, making you more prone to canker sores. Studies have shown that folks who get these sores often are low on thiamin, folic acid, B12, B6, iron, and zinc. Fixing these deficiencies can stop future canker sores in about half of all cases. Taking a good multivitamin can help cover your bases, but sucking on a zinc lozenge can also speed up healing.

Remedy #2 – Watch out for food allergies

Watch out for food allergies

Food allergies or sensitivities can be behind those annoying recurring canker sores. Steering clear of trigger foods can seriously cut down on how often you get them. Common culprits include gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, and citrus fruits. Try cutting these out for a while and see if it makes a difference.

Remedy #3 – Lay off acidic foods

Lay off acidic foods

Munching on acidic stuff like citrus fruits, tomatoes, or pickled veggies can irritate those canker sores or even make them worse. Try cutting back on these foods to give your mouth a break.

Remedy #4 – Be gentle with hard or sharp foods

Be gentle with hard or sharp foods

Crunchy snacks like nuts or chips can be rough on your mouth and might even cause canker sores or slow down healing if you've already got one. Take it easy with these foods, especially if you're dealing with an active sore.

Remedy #5 - Avoid toothpaste or oral rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate

Avoid toothpaste or oral rinses containing sodium lauryl sulfate

Steer clear of toothpaste or mouth rinses with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This stuff is often added to toothpaste to make it foam up when we brush, but it can irritate your mouth and cause canker sores. Luckily, there are natural toothpaste options out there that don't use SLS.

Remedy #6 – Saltwater rinse

Saltwater rinse

A warm salt water rinse is an old-school remedy that does the trick. It helps soothe the sore and can even help it heal faster. Just mix a teaspoon of sea salt with four ounces of warm water, swish it around in your mouth for about 30 seconds, then spit it out. You can do this up to three times a day until the sore is all better.

Remedy #7 – Try Deglycyrhhizinated licorice (DGL)

For speedy healing, give deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) a shot. This special licorice extract has been shown to work wonders on canker sores. In one study, most people saw big improvements within just a day or two. Try chewable tablets of DGL about twenty minutes before meals.

*Always consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any vitamins or supplements.*

Remedy #8 – Aloe vera gel

People have been using aloe vera for ages because it's great for healing. Aloe vera gel is packed with nutrients that can help your mouth heal faster. Mix some aloe vera gel with water, swish it around in your mouth for a minute, then swallow it. Repeat this up to three times a day until your sore is history.


Sometimes, you might end up with a canker sore without even realizing what caused it. In those cases, a warm salt water rinse can be a quick and easy fix. But for folks who deal with canker sores on the regular, you might need to try out all eight of these recommendations to keep them from popping up again or to help them heal faster if you've already got one.

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